Football: Packers defeat Rochester Mayo in OTPublished 10:03pm Saturday, October 5, 2013
To say the Packers made a statement in Art Hass Stadium Saturday night would be an understatement.
Not only did Austin win its first home contest in four years, it also beat Rochester Mayo for the first time in nine years and it showed that it can bounce back from a letdown.
“When I first took this job, some guy told me I was stupid because I’d never beat Mayo,” Austin head Brett Vesel said. “Whoever that dude was, we just beat Mayo.”
The Packers finished their historic 26-23 overtime win when quarterback Ryan Synoground surged in for a one-yard touchdown to cap a 26-23 win for the Packers over the Spartans (4-2 overall, 4-2 Big Nine).
“I saw the hole wide open and I took it,” said Synoground. “It was awesome.”
Synoground thought he scored on the Packers’ first play of overtime when he was stopped at the one-yard line, but he didn’t mind waiting to score.
Austin (2-4 overall, 2-4 Big Nine) closed the win with its offense, but its defense made the biggest plays of the night.
The Packers, who allowed just 176 total yards to Mayo, slammed the door on Mayo’s only possession in overtime as Ethan Horstmann made a sack on second down and Ajuda Nywesh broke up a pass on the goal-line on third down to force the Spartans to kick a field goal.
“Our defense is really starting to excel,” Austin head coach Brett Vesel said. “They just need to continue to get better.”
Nywesh caused a 14-point swing in Austin’s favor in the first half when he picked off a pass deep in Austin territory and ran it back 50 yards to set up a 14-yard TD catch by Zach Wessels to make it 17-7 Packers with 27 seconds left in the first half.
The interception was the first one in Nywesh’s career.
“It felt great to get that on my home field. I really wanted to take it the house, but our offense ended up scoring and that’s all that mattered,” Nywesh said. “It wasn’t the best game for our defense and we’re definitely capable of being a lot better than what we were today.”
The Packers had a lot of momentum at half-time, but a short punt and an interception saw the Spartans take a 20-17 lead with 4:01 left in the third after Mayo converted scoring drives of 16 and six yards. The Packers also lost a lot of field position and five snaps that went over Synoground’s head.
“I made a bad a read (on the interception) and it was all me. You’ve got to let that go and keep executing,” Synoground said. “I thought our defense played phenomenal tonight. All of the points they got were off our turnovers.”
The Packers tied the game up when Zach Wessels kicked a 23-yard field goal with 10:45 left in the third quarter and neither team got inside their opponent’s 20-yard line in the rest of regulation.
Wessels, who also made a first quarter field goal, finished the game with seven catches for 98 yards and two scores.
“I have a lot of trust in Wess,” Synoground said. “Anything I throw in his way, he’ll catch it. If I’m not throwing it 10 yards out of bounds and I throw it in bounds, he’ll catch it.”
Austin’s offense moved the ball well in the first half as Nate Conner racked up the majority of his 99 yards early on. In the second half, Synoground used the read-option to move the ball for the Packers, but Austin’s nine penalties and snap troubles slowed the team down.
“We won the game and we played like garbage in the second half,” Vesel said. “The team last year and maybe in previous years wouldn’t have done that. They played right until the end tonight.”
As the offense struggled, the Packer defense made some big plays. Elijah Dahmen made several tackles in the backfield, Kole Igou had a sack and blocked punt and Gabe Gerstner recovered a fumble.
“We had nothing to lose,” Nywesh said “We hadn’t beat them in a long time, so we went out there and gave it all we had. The scoreboard showed it and we as players showed it also.”
Before Saturday’s game, the Packers had talked about a win over Mayo being a program-changing one and they still felt that way after the game.
“This was real huge to beat a team like Mayo,” Synoground said. “It means a lot to the program. This program has really changed and coach Vesel has done a fabulous job. We’re getting better each week and we’ve got to finish the season real strong.”
Rushing: Nate Conner, 19-for-99; Ryan Synoground, 16-for-38, TD; Cory Hepler, 2-fro-7; passing: Synoground, 13-for-29, 141, 2 TD, INT; receiving: Wessels, 7-for-98, 2 TD; Bret Lukes, 2-for-23; Nik Gasner, 4-for-20; interceptons: Ajuda Nywest (1); sacks: Cole Igou (1); Ethan Horstmann (1); fumble recovery: Gabe Gerstner (1); penalties: 9-for-65
Rushing: 80; passing: 96; penalties: 4-for-12
Mayo 0 7 13 3 3 — 23
Austin 10 7 0 3 6 — 26
(A) Zach Wessels 23 field goal (7 plays, 47 yards) 9:38
(A) Wessels 15 pass from Ryan Synoground (Wessels kick) (5 plays, 46 yards) :52.2
(M) Jay Alston 27 run (5 plays, 46 yards) (Brownell kick) 3:48
(A) Wessels 14 pass from Synoground (Wessels kick) :27.5
(M) Loren Lorang 3 run (Brownell kick) (2 plays, 16 yards) 10:53
(M) Matt Rogers 6 pass from Alston (kick failed) 4:01
(A) Wessels 23 field goal (7 plays, 25 yards) 10:45
(M) Brownell kick (4 plays, 0 yards) 0:00
(A) Synoground 1 run (3 plays, 10 yards) 0:00